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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Pennsylvania rolls out automatic voter registration

Eligible voters getting a new driver’s license or ID card in Pennsylvania will now be automatically registered to vote, Commonwealth officials said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, announced the change Tuesday, touting it as good for democracy.

“Automatic voter registration is a commonsense step to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and tax dollars,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Residents of our Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age, and citizenship at the DMV — all the information required to register to vote — so it makes good sense to streamline that process with voter registration,” he added.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia.
Part of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s campaign plan included implementing automatic voter registration.Matt Rourke / AP file

Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to implement automatic voter registration, according to a tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Automatic voter registration simplifies the voter registration processes and requires voters to opt out if they want to stay off the rolls. Previously, voters in Pennsylvania were offered the option to register while getting a driver’s license, a process that involved 19 screens of questions. Now, they will be automatically taken through 11 questions during the ID process, according to Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for the governor.

The measure also helps election officials keep their voter rolls tidy, by allowing voters to update their registrations during the same process.

Americans have been able to register to vote at a state motor vehicle agency since a federal law required it in 1993; since then, nearly half of all states and the District of Columbia have made the process automatic.

As a candidate, Shapiro campaigned as a democracy defender, and his democracy policy plan included implementing automatic voter registration.

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